When it comes to weight loss, everybody's talking about cutting calories and exercising more. While that's sound advice, counting calories can become a very busy chore. There are plenty of weight-loss sites and apps to help you keep track of your calories, if you take the time to enter the data. But how many of you have started using one of these food trackers, and quickly fallen off the wagon as far as keeping up with entering everything you eat? Probably a lot of you.
Keeping an exact diary of your food intake is the best way to calculate your calories, but the next best thing is exercising some portion control, to prevent overeating and act as an estimated calorie count to keep you from going overboard.
Weighing In Your FoodThe most accurate way to control your portion sizes is to weigh them, just like the good old days of Weight Watchers. Of course, now they've simplified their system so you don't have to weigh items on that program, but getting out the scale still remains one of the best ways to exercise portion control, according to Health. You can find a food scale at most general merchandise stores, as well as online retailers like Amazon.
While that may be the ideal method of portion control, obviously one is not about to carry around a food scale and pull it out the next time you're having filet mignon in a five-star Michelin restaurant — or even at Burger King — so you'll need a few alternative strategies when you're out and about or when you don't have time to sit and weigh every portion.
It's All About PlatingYou can also assign certain portions of your plate to certain types of foods, such as allowing 50 percent of your plate for fruits and vegetables, 25 percent for protein, and 25 percent for complex carbohydrates or whole grains. While one should be able to fairly easily eyeball those portions, you can now buy plates to help keep you on track. Yes, I know, you'd think as adults we could manage to control our portion sizes without having special plates to remind us, but sometimes having that visual reminder keeps us honest.
If you really want to have fun with this, or you are on your own custom diet, go to one of these stores where you get to paint your own plates and bowls and create a custom portion control dish. Or maybe add some motivational sayings to keep you on track, as well.
Pre-Pack Those PortionsIf you're ever up watching TV in the wee hours of the morning, you've likely seen many fitness infomercials. Some of the fitness DVD packages offer a set of color-coded portion control containers. You'll have one color that represents your protein, one for carbs, one for vegetables, one for fats, and so on. These sets usually run about $15 if you purchase them on your own and you only have the one set.
If someone wants to be super-motivated and create multiple lunch and dinner options in bulk, you don't need to go out and spend a fortune on these special container sets. If you look at the sizes, they generally run a half cup or a full cup with a few a little bit smaller. Simply go to the local dollar store and pick up some containers in those sizes so you can create pre-packed containers for multiple meals at once.
[Image via AP Stock]
This is a great tip for people who are really busy and want to sit down and cook several days worth of meals at once, as well as singles or couples who have a hard time cooking in small batches. You can also mix and match your proteins, carbohydrates and all the other elements of your meal for some variety even among the leftovers of your big cooking day.
Eyeballing ItIf all else fails, you can always use a couple of tricks from Health and WebMD to estimate your portions. For instance, did you know that three ounces of protein or meat is approximately the size of a deck of cards and the ideal size for most people at one meal? Need to estimate one cup of cereal or vegetables? One cup is approximately the size of a fist or a baseball. So there you go, you can estimate your portions without pulling out a scale or measuring cups.
Just remember, if you can't keep up with calorie counts, you can always control your portions.
[Image via AP Stock]